When I meet with clients, potential clients and colleagues every week, I say this sentence at least half a dozen times:  It is easier to run a million dollar company than it is to run a $50,000 company.  To run a million dollar company, you already have an important following of clients that get your value, and that feeds your further success.  Figuring out how to scrape $50,000 together is damn painful.  It’s enormous work, you cannot afford to hire the grunt work out to others, you can’t afford to buy some marketing services, you get the point.  IT IS PAINFUL.  What is missing?  MOMENTUM.

The same is true if you are still an employee.  Being exceptional has enormous rewards that mediocrity does NOT.  It feeds more exceptionalism.  The other people who are performing at an exceptional level seek you out.  Team members want to work hard for you.  They are inspired to do their best work on your teams.  Your bosses trust you with more responsibility and promotions.  On the other hand, mediocrity is the beginning of a long, painful death.  I’m not talking about getting fired.  I’m talking about not expecting enough of yourself.  It will kill you.  Mediocrity is the equivalent of digging your own hole and hopping inside.  It’s hard to come back from it.  The creation of momentum from the slippery slope of mediocrity is extremely tough.  Better never to go down that road.  I’ve seen lots of mediocre performers in my life in business.  They have no “juice,” nobody cares what they have to say about anything, and people resent that they are still around when they perform at a mediocre level.  WHO wants to be THAT guy??

I have noticed lately that those people that are very successful (let’s say, famous), benefit from doing absolutely no additional work to get more opportunities, more fame, more respect.  Just watch social media some time when people discuss celebrities and potential bad news about them.  If the person is well-known and well-respected, THEY CAN DO NO WRONG.  This phenomenon exists in work environments, relationships, and in business too.  People who are exceptional get the benefit of the doubt.  Let’s take a marriage as an example.  Your husband takes out the garbage and cleans up the dishes, puts the kids to bed.  He smiles when you walk into a room.  He enquires about your day.  One day, he forgets the garbage.  Given his history, do you even care?  But if he never did any of those things and only took the garbage out when you nagged at him, how would your response be different?  Exactly.  Being exceptional (in this case, an exceptional and attentive husband) pays dividends.  Being mediocre is far more difficult.

So, how do you become exceptional if you are not already?  First, evaluate why not.  Is it your nature to be mediocre?  I doubt it!  If you are not moved by what you are doing, whether it’s a job, a career, a relationship, a company, get out of it.  Life is too short to dabble in mediocrity, especially when you have a purpose you are not fully realizing.  Second, discover what you want and need to be doing exceptional work.  It could be a change of geography, a new job, a new career, a start of a new business, a new team.  Whatever it is, remember that there is ALWAYS room for a big change in your life if it sets you on the right course.  It is never too late.  Finally, craft a strategy and a process to put you on the path to exceptionalism.  Work your process hard to gain momentum.  Because at the end of the day, a life of momentum is a hundred times more rewarding, more energy-feeding, more FUN than one of “coasting” from a mediocre existence.

This is not an exercise in keeping up with the Joneses, by the way.  Everyone has their own path and their own trajectory on that path.  My point is to be exceptional, no matter what path you’ve decided to travel.  Because exceptionalism breeds a clear and happy journey and mediocrity breeds a lot of rocks and rain.  You choose.